Many gymnasts are faced with decision at some point whether to switch sports or continue on to the higher, more difficult levels within gymnastics. Cheer leading has become very popular in the past decade and many gymnasts are transitioning to cheer as they get older. In this article we’ll explore the differences between the sport. We will give you specific insights that will help make the decision easier if you find yourself at this crossroad.
Most gymnasts ask themselves these 3 questions when deciding whether to continue with gymnastics or switch to cheer :
- Do I want to continue the 20+ hours of practice per week that most gymnastics teams require?
- Am I realistically going to be able to perform the more difficult skills at levels 6 and above in gymnastics?
- Do I want to be a part of a high school team? (Many high schools do not offer gymnastics but almost all offer cheer leading)
The decision to switch sports can be mentally draining. You’ve put in so much time into a sport and created bonds with your coaches and teammates. To make the switch is a big decision and I hope this article makes the decision easier for you.
Gymnastics As A Foundation
Gymnastics builds an incredible foundation of strength and core that simply isn’t found in most other sports. My son and two daughters took part in gymnastics at a young age at some level. There strength and agility improved by leaps in bounds.
I’m mentioning this because I do believe that all young athletes should do some level of gymnastics to build core motor skills and strength. No matter what sport they choose later in life the foundation that you build in gymnastics will give them an edge.
Gymnastics classes begin as young as 3 years old and continue all the way through high school. Starting out at a young age and attending just 1-2 hours per week is all you need.
Time Commitments Compared For Gymnastics & Cheer Leading
If you fall in love with gymnastics you’ll likely choose to go down the Xcel or JO (Junior Olympics) program. Both programs require extensive training hours even from a young age.
As an example once you hit level 4 you will likely be practicing around 12-16 hours per week. Level 4 gymnasts could be as young as 3rd or 4th grade.
Schools pretty easy in 3rd and 4th grade but as you approach middle schools you’ll find that you need more time to study and if you are in the gym 16 hours per week it could make doing well in school more difficult.
Cheer leading on the other hand requires less practice time. Most club teams will practice 2-4 times per week for 2 hours. When you get to high school the practice time ramps up to about 15 hours per week. In comparison, as a high school gymnast you will practice around 20-25 hours per week.
Cheer leading is becoming more year round but is a little more seasonal than gymnastics. Cheer leaders will follow high school sports like football and basketball and then do their own competitions during the Spring & Summer.
The Fear Factor of Gymnastics
Gymnastics starts to get scary at the higher levels. It’s a tough pill to swallow but the reality is many gymnasts will leave the sport at the higher levels because the skills start to get very advanced.
For example on the beam you’ll go from a doing a back walk over in levels 5 and 6 to doing a standing back tuck in levels 7 and 8. A standing back tuck is no joke on the ground. So when you have to do it on a beam that’s 4 feet off the ground that’s no joke.
Keep in mind cheer leading can also be scary. If you are a light gymnast don’t be surprised if your cheer leading coach asks you to be a “flyer”. And yes that’s the girl that is getting thrown two stories in the air to be caught by her teammates below.
In some ways a flyer in cheer leading can be scarier than high level gymnastics because you are putting your trust into someone else’s hands. Overall cheer leading is safer than gymnastics but some positions on the cheer team are very scary.
If you feel you’ve capped out at your current skill level don’t get down on yourself. The reality is your flexibility and strength will be stronger than most other athletes your age.
The skills you’ve learned in gymnastics carry over incredibly well into other sports like:
- Cheer Leading
- Martial Arts
- And More!!
Does Your High School Offer Gymnastics
Sadly many high schools do not offer gymnastics. Gymnastics requires a ton of equipment which is very expensive. Gym time is scarce at many high schools these days so the idea of having a gymnastics team simply didn’t make sense for many high schools.
Currently they’ll be 1 or 2 high schools in your area that offer gymnastics. It might not be your high schools so you could be stuck traveling out of your town to participate on a high school gymnastics team.
Nowadays most club gymnastic teams continue through high school and college scouts recruit through that platform. In most areas you’ll also find that the club teams are vastly more competitive than the high school gymnastics team.
Alternatively cheer leading is offered at almost every high school. You will be part of the team year round. In the fall cheering for football, winter for basketball and during the Spring and Summer competing in local and national cheer leading competitions.
Cheer Leading vs Gymnastics
This is an exciting debate to some and can be very fierce between cheerleading vs gymnastics. Both are fun and beneficial activities that all kids enjoy.
If you have chosen either cheerleading or gymnastics, you must also decide if you prefer one over the other. Some people enjoy both activities and find that they do not get bored. Others feel that gymnastics are the better choice for them because it is physically demanding and requires a great deal of skill. So what are the pros and cons of cheerleading vs gymnastics?
Well, pros and cons are really relative. It depends entirely on which you enjoy more – gymnastics or cheerleading. The following are the pros and cons for both activities:
Cheerleading Pros: While gymnastics have its own rewards in terms of a trophy and reward for top performer, cheerleading competitions reward the cheerleaders for their efforts. They get to be on stage with their friends and have the opportunity to show off their talents. They get to make a lot of noise and wear sexy outfits. They get to be the center of attention. In addition to this, cheerleaders are also required to do cheer dancing routines during the football and basketball games normally.
A qualified gymnast will require a coach who is able to provide all the resources that are required for the performance. The first thing that the coach will do is check on the gymnasts physical and mental capabilities. He needs to see whether the gymnast has the ability to execute flawless body balance. He also needs to check if he or she has the required skills for the routine. Only then will he know what he really needs.
Another important factor for cheerleading and gymnastics is health. This factor is even more important for cheerleaders. A gymnast needs to be agile and limber so that he can keep his body in the air for some time. In case of cheer leading, a cheerleader has to be strong enough to balance herself and keep her balance even when he loses her footing. Balance is very important in gymnastics because they have to be able to make impressive displays during a competitionor event..
Both cheerleading and gymnastic are fantastic sports which can bring a lot of fun and excitement to the people who are involved in them. However, each sport has its own advantages and disadvantages. Therefore it is better to take proper steps so that you make the best choice.